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Lindale equestrian headed to national competition in Pennsylvania this month

Published: Apr. 3, 2022 at 6:23 PM CDT

LINDALE, Texas (KLTV) - Riders at Sandy Point Equestrian Center LLC in Lindale are kicking up dust and honing in on skills that are taking one rider to a national level.

Their team is part of the Interscholastic Equestrian Association, and rider Dee Hill is headed to a national competition later this month. They are in Zone 7, Region 2, which encompasses East Texas and Louisiana.

Hill is the rider who qualified for the competition last month, and he said when he heard his name it was a relief.

“When you make it to the last few that’re still standing, it’s more relieving and relieving,” Hill said. “Then finally, when they call your number as first place, it’s an overall sense of accomplishment.”

Melissa Maitland, who owns the center and trains the riders, said this is the first time they’ve had a student make it to a national competition. Hill will be participating in what’s called a flat class, so there’s no jumping involved.

“He will be judged on his position in the saddle, which is called equitation, and the way that he presents himself on the horse,” she said.

To add to the challenge, Hill won’t be riding his horse, Atticus.

“They actually draw a horse at the competition. It’s typically something that they’ve never been on,” Maitland said.

The team has several lessons a week after school and on the weekends. Hill said they begin preparing two months out. This is their first season having nearly their whole team qualify for the zone competition.

“So we have the regional competition, the zones, and nationals. We had most of our team qualifying for zones this year, so we’re really happy with that,” Maitland said.

This will be Hill’s first time on the East Coast. He said he’s excited, and the riding center is a prestigious one.

“You have to trust yourself just as much as the horse. You have to be prepared for anything they will do, and you have to be focused one hundred percent of the time,” Hill said.

Hill will be competing in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the end of the month.

Maitland said that the students put in a lot of work, on and off the horses.

“They don’t only ride; they come in, they work with the horses, and they groom the horses. They clean up after the horses,” Maitland said. “It’s not all about riding. There’s a lot of horsemanship, as we call it, involved as well.”

She said it’s a great way for kids to learn responsibility, empathy for an animal, and timeliness, or arriving on time.

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